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Thailand (then known as Siam) paid a high price for its independence, however: loss of suzerainty over Cambodia and Laos to France and cession of the northern states of the Malay Peninsula to Britain.By 1910 the area under Thai control was a fraction of what it had been a century earlier.

Since January 2004, thousands have been killed and wounded in violence associated with the ethno-nationalist insurgency in Thailand's southern Malay-Muslim majority.A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy.In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the United States in Vietnam.) and this is an apt name for this country where anything goes.By other translations it simply means “Land of the Thais.” The Thais call their country “Muang Thai,” which also means “Land of the Free.” They call themselves the “Khon Tha,” which means “free people.” “Siam” and “Siamese” are terms mainly used by foreigners.In 1238 a Tai chieftain declared his independence from the Khmer and established a kingdom at Sukhothai in the broad valley of the Mae Nam (river)Chao Phraya, at the center of modern Thailand.

Sukhothai was succeeded in the fourteenth century by the kingdom of Ayutthaya.

Little is known of the earliest inhabitants of what is now Thailand, but 5,000-year-old archaeological sites in the northeastern part of the country are believed to contain the oldest evidence of rice cultivation and bronze casting in Asia and perhaps in the world.

In early historical times, a succession of tribal groups controlled what is now Thailand.

[Source: Library of Congress] The Tai, a people who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries.

The first mention of their existence in the region is a twelfth-century A. inscription at the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which refers to syam, or "dark brown" people (the origin of the term Siam) as vassals of the Khmer monarch.

Thailand lies at the converging point of the empires of China, India, Burma, the Khmers and Vietnam.